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The Queen’s Pawn by Christy English

Posted By Claire on August 20, 2010

The Queen's Pawn - Christy English“The Queen’s Pawn” is Christy English’s debut novel and is a delight to read. Author Jeane Westin described it as a “jewel of a novel” and I have to agree. It was wonderful and I was disappointed when I finished it, it had been wonderful company for a few days.

The Queen’s Pawn tells the story of two wonderful medieval women – Eleanor of Aquitaine and Princess Alais of France – and it is told through their eyes, with each woman having a voice in the novel. The novel opens with Alais finding out that her father. King Louis VII of France, is sending her to England to marry the son of the woman who broke his heart, his ex-wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, the present wife of Henry II of England. Alais is understandably worried about going to the court of the woman who she has always though of as a “devil”, but she knows she has to do her duty to her father and France, and play her part as a pawn on the chessboard of Europe.

When Alais arrives in England, she meets Eleanor and falls under her spell, coming to love her as a mother. Although Alais is simply a pawn, a tool that Eleanor can use to further her son Richard’s ambitions, Eleanor comes to love this innocent girl and takes her under her wing. The two women form a deep friendship, a real bond of love, but this is threatened when Alais feels betrayed by Richard and by the woman she has come to look on as a mother. Eleanor has taught Alais well and Alais uses her new found power to punish those who’ve hurt her and to make her own way in the world. From friends to bitter rivals, can these women ever be friends again?

Well, I won’t spoil the book for you, but I can tell you that this book has all of the ingredients of a top class historical novel: love, passion, intrigue, betrayal, revenge, grief, happiness and strong characters. By giving Alais and Eleanor their own chapters and telling the story from both of their points of view, Christy English makes the reader empathise with both women and you just can’t take sides. You fall in love with both characters and you feel their pain. A veritable rollercoaster of emotions!

I always say that a good historical novel makes you want to know more about the characters and this is exactly what this book did. Although the High Middle Ages is not my specialism, the book has made me research both Eleanor and Alais – I love strong women characters! Christy has included a useful “Afterword” at the end of the novel where she explains the history behind “The Queen’s Pawn” and where she has deviated from what is thought to have happened. There is also a “Reader’s Guide” with questions for discussion which will prove useful for book clubs and reading groups. It is evident that Christy put her heart and soul into this book and it is a fantastic debut novel, I can’t wait to read her next book.

The Queen’s Pawn was released in paperback by NAL (New American Library) in April 2010 and is available from (click on book cover) and also Amazon UK – click here for details. It’s a wonderful read.


5 Responses to “The Queen’s Pawn by Christy English”

  1. amanda says:

    Wow after reading this review i can’t help but look for it on my kindle!!!!! can’t want to read it!!! thanks

  2. Savarnah says:

    I think that this book will be great. After all i am in love with anything to do with Monarchy. This is 2 thumbs up for me!!!

  3. Lynn says:

    I loved this book. Cannot believe the power and reponsibility given (or better, forced on) these teenagers! With so little really known about Princess Alais, I would have gone the same direction as Christy English, assuming she was smart enough to chose Henry over Eleanor, sacrificing herself and any potential relationship with Richard. I enjoyed the “Reader’s Guide” at the end as well.

  4. Claire says:

    I loved this book too, Lynn, it really brought the characters and period to life.

  5. Kimberly says:

    I really enjoyed this book. It was the first book that I had read about Eleanor, and it was hard to put down once I started it!

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